Turkish PM in Pakistan to cement bilateral cooperation

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched down in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad »»

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched down in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Sunday evening to hold a series of talks with Pakistani officials and renew cooperation between the two countries.

Coming to Islamabad as a formal guest of his Pakistani counterpart, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Erdoğan addressed the Pakistani parliament and senate members during their joint session in a speech on Monday.

“Turkey and Pakistan are two strong countries in the region making important contributions to regional and global peace,” Erdoğan said during the joint session. He also expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts to contribute to stability in Afghanistan and mentioned the “sacrifices” Pakistan has made during its combat with the terrorism affecting the security situation in Afghanistan, adding, “15,000 Pakistani martyrs show the greatness of Pakistan’s sacrifice in combating terrorism.”

Turkey’s recent push for Pakistani participation in a May 20-21 NATO summit ended in a last-minute invitation to President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan’s participation in the recent summit raised hopes that the country may be ready to reopen its border so that the US and NATO can dispatch military supplies to neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan closed its border after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in US airstrikes on the Afghan border in November.

Erdoğan was accompanied by a large delegation, including Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Ömer Çelik.

Yıldırım also met privately with his Pakistani counterpart, Arbab Alamgir Khan, on Monday. Yıldırım and Khan discussed ways for a more effective use of the railway between İstanbul and Islamabad and experience-sharing and cooperation between the two countries to improve Pakistani highway, railway and ship construction.

Erdoğan is set to hold private talks on Tuesday with Gilani and the two will appear in a joint press conference. Later the same day the two leaders will attend the second Turkey-Pakistan High-Level Cooperation Council meeting. After the meetings, the representatives of the two countries will sign new cooperation agreements.

Wrapping up the talks in Islamabad, Erdoğan will head to Astana, the Kazakh capital.

Turkey and Pakistan enjoy good relations stemming from cultural and political ties between the two countries. Erdoğan’s last visit to Pakistan was in October 2010.



Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN